1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-30

First introduced in 1983, the Olympus OM-30 (also known as the OM-F in the US) was Olympus’s third camera in the OM double-digit series and their first step towards an autofocus SLR. It is now very hard to find.

However, unlike other double digits OMs, the OM-30 wasn’t as popular with buyers, which has made it rare in the 21st Century.

Here’s all you need to know about the OM-30

The Cameras Features

One feature that makes the OM-30 stand out over other double digits OMs is that it was the first autofocus Olympus camera.

The OM-30 came with a Zuiko 35–70mm AF zoom autofocus lens. This lens came with a built-in motor that allowed continuous autofocus. 

The OM-30 also featured an F2/F4 switch for the focus system.

And that’s not all

Thanks to the innovative In-Focus Trigger cord socket, this camera can take images automatically as soon as they come into focus.

With this feature, a photographer could set up a street shot while waiting for the object to come into focus.

Like the OM-20, the OM-30 also featured a near-perfect metering system, which made it easier for a photographer to set exposure more accurately.

What about the viewfinder?

Like other OM cameras, the OM-30 came with a large and bright viewfinder that had a finder view-field of 93% of the actual picture field. When looking through the viewfinder, you could see a 12-bar LED indicator that displayed the shutter speed and whether an image was in focus or out of focus. 

Another great feature about the OM-30 was the fact that it featured both a manual and automatic mode.

If you prefer having full control of your shutter speed and aperture, the OM-30 is the camera for you. While in manual mode, you could set your shutter speed from 2 sec to 1/1000 sec.

Physical Description

Like other cameras in the OM double-digit series, the OM-30 had a plastic body. It came in either black or chrome.

The buttons and controls were easily laid out and could be reached even as one was holding the camera to their eye.

On the top plate, you have

  • The film rewind crank, and mode selector switch on the left side. The same switch can be used to check the battery level. 
  • An X-Contact hot shoe in the middle
  • An exposure concentration and ASA dial on the right.
  • Film advance lever on the right
  • And a 12-second self-timer lever.

Like other OM cameras, the shutter speed dial is located at the base of the lens mount, with the aperture ring being situated at the front of the lens. The electronic focus ring is located next to the aperture ring.

Shortcomings of the Camera

The OM-30 failed to attract many buyers due to several shortcomings.

For starters, being the first Olympus camera to feature an autofocus system meant the system would not be perfect. The OM-30 autofocus system was slow and inaccurate.

Another shortcoming with the OM-30 is the fact that the light seals in the camera disintegrate with time. When buying the camera, make sure to check the light seals.

If disintegrated or sticky, replace them as they aren’t costly.

Although not entirely a shortcoming, this camera requires five 1.5v SR 44 batteries to function.  

Final Thoughts

Despite its limited success, the Olympus OM-30 is an incredible camera.

It’s lightweight, has most of the features found in previous OM, and also features an autofocus system.

And if that’s not enough.

It’s pretty rare, which makes it a valuable addition to your collection of vintage classic cameras.

5 replies on “Olympus OM-30”

Does this, therefore, qualify for being the buy of the century?…and are you sitting down? 😉

Sometime in either the late part of the first decade or the early part of the second decade of this century, at a bric-a-brac stall supporting the nominated charity of the year at the local Co-Op supermarket, I picked up an OM-30 body, the standard Zuiko 50mm 1.8 lens, a 28mm Miranda, a 28-70mm Miranda macro zoom, a gigantic 75-300mm Miranda macro zoom, four Cokin filters (sepia, blue graduated, grey graduated and starburst), the holder for those filters, the retaining ring for the filter holder, all in a vintage burgundy-coloured leather case for….(wait for it!)….£10.00!

I’d very much like to hear from other readers of this post if they can beat that bargain…and it’s still a bargain, I think, even now the 28-70mm lens is irreperably broken and the 28mm – on an OM-fit adaptor on an Olympus E-PL1 – was lost somewhere in Prague in the summer of 2019.

Finding one available in a store is quite impressive and including the lenses makes that a great price. I bet they didn’t realise what they had, I hope you’ve had years of fun with it.

Not quite the years of fun you’d imagine as the decade or so since has been a decidedly dislocating one for me, involving the loss of both parents, one after they had been ill with Alzheimer’s for some years and the other, by contrast, quite suddenly, an at times traumatic house-move and a couple of periods of severe mental ill health. In those circumstances it’s been very difficult to concentrate on the somewhat involving activity of photography, film photography being especially involving.

Although one’s perception of passing time is supposed to accelerate as one gets older (the “Is it a year ago? It seems just like yesterday!” syndrome) looking back at my life at my old place is like looking at a long-lost age, despite it being still less than three years ago and at the time when I’d have bought that set of photographic equipment even more so, thinking about everything that’s happened both personally and globally.

Another old classic I have is a Praktica LTL 3, which should be way up my street in view of my blogs on the Pop Music scene of the former Soviet Bloc mostly of the 1970s, (presumably, one of my late father’s many purchases from various charity shops). Unfortunately, the mercury batteries for the metering are no longer available. Do you, or any of your associates have any experience with using one of those without the metering battery, as I have seen is possible?

I’m not familiar with the camera but you can generally use older cameras without the battery, but you may find some of the automatic modes and obviously the metering won’t work.

You can 1.5v batteries that will fit, whereas the old ones were 1.35v, but the metering will be off and will take some practice to adjust.

I think you can get some replacement 1.35v batteries but they’re hard to find or expensive.

Best of luck.

Thanks for the advice. It just so happens that, after discovering that what I took to be the ‘kit lens’, the Tessar 50mm f2.8, had a broken diaphragm, earlier today I attempted a repair – to no avail, as I should have expected! – and the only other lens around that would fit onto the LTL 3 is none other than a Hanimex 28mm f2.8 – allegedly “the worst lens of all time”, so I have seen! It should be interesting to see what results I got from a camera with no functioning metering system – I managed to make some sort of washer out of soldering wire and Blu Tak to make a conventional 1.5 v button cell fit, but it didn’t fire up the system – with the “worst lens of all time” fitted thereon!

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